Wednesday, 8 August 2012

KICKSTARTER: How To Sell Your Project Successfully

Know What You're Getting Into Before You Start
It's important to have a goal before embarking on a fund raising drive of any kind and its no different with Kickstarter. On the one hand it provides you with an incredible opportunity to realize a project you've always wanted to do but on the other hand also heaps a ton of responsibility on you to make good what you'll deliver your legions of backers or "pledgers" when they invest in your concept. Planning is absolutely essential, ramping up an appeal is in effect a business plan that total strangers are going to invest in and they're only going to invest in something that they have absolute faith or respect for. Cost your project out down to the penny and know what your break even point is, consider the resources and time you'll need to invest and above all network with people who may have the skills you'll need to rely on. People don't part with money easily these days and in order to get commitment from them you're going to have show some commitment yourself which is why coming up with a watertight plan is important. Be sure to explain clearly what the project is you are seeking pledges for, why you are seeking funding and the efforts you'll be making to ensure the project comes together.
Backers are ultimately looking for cool projects to be a part of, to be inspired and to be able to say "I helped fund that" empowering people to act and make a difference gives them an amazing feeling. Indie projects are always held in high regard, ones not hindered by executive chains of command preaching down through the ranks of Monday morning board meetings and corporate greed. Backers are looking for trend setters, for projects that appeal to them because it's something they've not seen before or that innovate in some way. Above all though backers are looking for a decent ROI (Return On Investment), there has to be a decent incentive to offer your backers to become involved in funding your project. A favourable mention in the back of your book for $5 pledged might be fine but don't expect that to have the same appeal at $10 Pledged. What you offer in return will ultimately dictate if your project gets off the ground.
Above all remember that you're also going to have consider what resources you have available in order to fulfil all your pledgers incentives, the logistics and all "the smaller nitty gritty stuff" are going to take up time and man power to honour so make sure you plan for it.

Avoid Talking Negatively - Remember your ABC (Always Be Confident)
No one wants to hear how your other attempts at funding have failed or how the bank manager broke his promise to lend you cash or how previous business partners let you down. Talking negatively or including any other type of sob story is just burning up crucial air time on how awesome you can make your project sound. Have something to say that keeps the tone positive and on the up, inspire people to believe in your project as well as yourself so be sure to present the product in a positive but relaxed tone and absolutely do not beg.
People are a lot more receptive to an idea if you can sell it with confidence, that means being able to make them just as enthusiastic about the project as you are. A well edited video of you talking about your project edited in with the ideas, sketches,prototype,blueprint,script,story or whatever it is you have will help sell your concept for someone to pledge in.You are the storyteller, tell a story that people cannot afford to ignore.Do your homework and check out other Kickstarter videos to get an idea of the sort of content people are including but more importantly how they are connecting with potential Pledgers.
How you inspire people with your concept is entirely up to you but remember you are selling the idea as well as yourself to people you'll probably never meet.
A positive attitude sprinkled with some insightful information or humour will pay off massively.
Two fantastic examples of this are Jeff McComseys Kickstarter  project, a Zombie Graphic Novel FUBAR:Empire of the Rising Dead and Tim Schafers super slick and humour filled pitch for his Kickstarter funded Adventure game which reached a staggering $3.3 Million in funding to the tune of some 87,000 backers and achieved 100% funding in just over 8 hours.
While both projects are vastly different they both give the reasons they are seeking Kickstarter funding and are openly honest about the whole process and this really helps the projects connect with potential backers.

Deliver What You Promise
If you're going to offer to deliver a signed lithographic print, guess what - you're actually going to have to deliver a signed lithographic print, once you've made that offer there's no turning back so carefully configure your backer incentives as being ones you can comfortably deliver. Resources are important, not only from a fulfilment perspective but also from a time perspective. You want to be able to dedicate as much time and manpower to your project as possible rather than have key personnel or team members running around trying to process the Kickstarter fulfilment of wrapping mugs, mousemats or leather bound art books or whatever gifts you are using for incentives for posting to pledgers. If you can't deliver it, don't promise it.

Be Clear On What You Are Offering
Keep things clear and simple, don't stuff your offerings with paragraph after paragraph of text, a snapshot or a brief overview of what you are offering backers per amount pledged is easy enough to advertise with a simple graphic, photo or image. These are sometimes labelled as "packages", a package is the deal you are offering your backers and will be broken down by monetary pledge. For example for $65 you might offer a Premium package which contains whatever it is you're going to offer, for $90 or more though they'll get the Collectors package which is made up of the same content as the Premium package but perhaps with something extra thrown in as a bonus.
An amazing example of beautifully realised packages is shown on  the Creatue Box Kickstarter page here.

Don't Get Sunk by Hidden Costs
There are some fantastic success stories on Kickstarter of late, there are literally hundreds of creative projects that have seen the light of day because they got the funding they deserved and became a reality.However, there are also some Kickstarter projects that became a reality but at a much larger cost than anticipated like the guys at War Balloon Games who detailed their painful expenditure here. The Hidden costs of Kickstarter can literally make or break your project, Kickstarter themselves take a 5% cut of your fees when the project reaches its funded target, Amazon takes between a 3-5% fee for credit card processing. Other cost you need to consider are things like manufacturing and delivery charges for backers incentives which can all quickly add up if you've failed to cost things out beforehand. Those t-shirts you're thinking about offering, have you costed the design, t-shirt stock, printing and delivery outside of the US?
What about third party fulfilment houses, if you haven't got the manpower to pick,pack and ship 3000 t-shirts you're going to need to pay someone who can.
Offering up posters, folded flat? because if you're using cardboard tubes those aren't cheap to post.
The best example I've seen on Kickstarter of calculating postage costs is the global map by the guys at Creature Box on their Kickstarter page, a colour coded map and Fed Ex costs are added per colour zone, these guys have clearly done their homework.
Another fee to consider is the legal fees for sorting out the necessary trademarks,copyrights and other protective measures to your I.P. This may be the digital age but your project is going to need some form of protection when it makes it to the big bad world.

Good Luck!